by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION - The National Wildlife Federation encourages families to participate in the Great American Backyard Campout June 28 as a simple way to reconnect with nature.

The National Wildlife Federation encourages families to reconnect with their wild side at the Great American Backyard Campout on June 28. In conjunction with Great Outdoors Month, the annual event encourages people to campout as a simple way to reconnect with nature.

“From wildlife watching tips and games to campfire songs and recipes, NWF gives people everywhere the resources they need to experience the wonders of wildlife right in their own backyards or neighborhoods with a simple yet memorable summer camp out,” Maureen Smith, chief marketing officer for NWF said. “And, by participating in NWF’s Great American Backyard Campout they can also experience a sense of community knowing that the experience is being shared by thousands of others all across the country.”

Nocturnal wildlife-watching is an activity that will keep the family immensely entertained without the use of phones or other electronics. Once the sun sets, a new array of wildlife emerges to explore America’s backyards. To help with your campout, here are some tips for observing amazing nocturnal wildlife like owls, foxes and moths.

n Pick areas where night-flying insects are abundant, such as over water, near flood lights and street lights. Light and water attract the insects that certain animals feed on at night.

n Get your binoculars, bird book and some flashlights and go out into the woods at night to search for owls.

n Watch for bats at sunset. They come out at sunset to look for mosquitos and other insects to eat.

n Go mothing. Put out fruit on a simple tray feeder or smear it on a tree in the late afternoon or early in the night. At nighttime, check the feeders for moth activity.

n Observe bugs at night by hanging a bed sheet in the backyard and shine a white light directly on it. Insects are a big part of the nighttime backyard show. Depending on the season, the sounds of crickets, cicadas and katydids may be so loud that they drown out other woodland sounds. Fireflies can also be spotted flashing their mating lights, and moths of all sizes are attracted to patio or spotlights in the warm weather.

n Use your ears; if you hear birds, frogs or mammals calling, slowly walk toward those sounds for a better chance of seeing them. Always remember to keep a respectable distance from the birds and mammals you are viewing.

Whether it is in the backyard, together with neighbors, with friends at a local park or at a large community event, NWF encourages families to trade screen time for green time by spending a night under the stars. Take the pledge to camp on June 28 or anytime of the year online at The website also has information on packing lists, recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, exploration activities, nature games and more.

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